2 make a pair
Rendezvous in Périgord Noir, on the route between Saint-Cyprien and Campagne, at Périgord Welcome where a fantastic duo will welcome you in an unusual spot. Adrian, a conference guide who has made truffles his speciality, along with Pounti, his faithful four-legged companion, without whom the search for the famous tubercle would be futile.
Pounti is a young dog, one year old, sociable and very affectionate and, of course, he is the real star of the show! He is a Berger d'Auvergne, a not very highly rated breed of sheepdog which used to be found on the farms of the Massif Central until the 1980s when it was almost completely replaced by more prestigious breeds, namely the Border Collie. The breed was on the verge of extinction in 2010 when a group of enthusiasts decided to save it.
"It's a dog that I chose primarily for its character," explains Adrian..
"From the very beginning the idea was to have him work with the public as a working demonstration, so he had to be friendly. It was my 2 year old son who chose him, so that tells you..." jokes the guide..
Heading to the truffiere
After introductions, the duo, Adrian/Pounti, will take you along a shady path to the top of the adjacent hillside where the truffle field is located. Halfway up the rocky hill, the smell of pine trees tickles our noses while the cicadas chirp in the oaks and junipers.
Adrian catches his breath in the coolness of a cave which appears in front of you. The cave is the perfect place to get to the heart of the matter and discuss the role of the soil, the climate and the environment in the development of the truffle.
The truffle field emerges a little higher up, dominating a green and wooded valley; we reach it by a typical country entrance, between sheds and tractors, and pass under 2 proud hazelnut trees and that's it, we arrive at the sanctuary!
Learning is a pleasure
We are in the middle of the Truffière and are sitting in the shade facing the hilly landscape. Adrian tells us a little more about the truffle, first of all what it is... Because if almost everyone knows that it is an underground mushroom, not many people know that the culinary diamond lives in symbiosis with trees. There are many varieties of truffle and not all of them are edible! Of course you knew all of that.
Tuber Melanosporum, also known as the Perigord Truffle, is the famous black truffle that gourmets crave! And although it is mainly this one that is cultivated in the truffle fields, it can only be harvested in winter. But in this field another species has also become established and some trees yield white summer truffles (Tuber aestivum). Come on! let's go! Pounti, search...
An olfactory treasure hunt...
For dogs, truffle seeking, also called cavage (the action of digging for truffles), is a game! Puppies are trained by flavouring their favourite toy with an aroma of truffles. A game with a reward: each time the dog discovers his hidden toy, he is entitled to a treat!
Adrian insists that he doesn't hide the truffles himself and that he can't guarantee the discovery of a precious sesame every time. So the group goes from tree to tree with the hope of seeing Pounti scrape the ground. At the marked spot, the ground is dug up gently in search of the treasure. At one side... or the other... maybe a little deeper!
When a truffle suddenly pops up, it's always a magical moment! You touch it, you weigh it, you smell it from the depths of your nostrils! Hmmm, that's a real appetite-opener...
That's good, because after the hunt, we return to the terrace to taste some truffle specialities such as the homemade truffle butter made with summer truffles or artichoke cream flavoured with winter truffles.
Many thanks to Adrian for this great experience discovering and sharing this precious delicacy, the jewel of Perigord gastronomy.
To prepare your visit to the truffle field
Contact Adrian from Perigord Welcome on 05 53 54 89 15 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org
Or book directly on line: www.perigord-welcome.com where you can find out about all the agency's activities.
Once the booking has been made, you will receive a ticket with the exact time and place of the rendezvous (GPS coordinates and a photo of the car park).
Adrian also proposes unusual guided tours in various towns and villages of the Périgord as well as to historical and prehistoric sites in the region.